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Fri, Dec. 06

Howard: Confidence important when making the grade in tennis
Column: My Point

Confidence can be described as a belief in one’s ability to succeed. Striking a healthy balance can be challenging. Too much of it and you can come off as cocky and stumble into unforeseen obstacles, but having too little can prevent you from taking risks and seizing opportunities—in school, at work, in your social life, athletic endeavors and beyond.

As a tennis player confidence can make you or break you.

Watching the Indian Wells final you saw Roger Federer serve for the match at 5-4 in the third set, up 40-15. All he needed was one good serve and the match was his. Certainly you have to give credit to Juan Martin del Potro he hung in there breaking Roger and then won the tie-break pretty handily.

Federer’s comments after his 2018 17-match win streak was broken, “It happens sometimes, not every day is the sun shining.”

And that’s absolutely true.

So what can you do to make sure you have the best results possible, day in and day out with your own tennis game?

Focus on your strengths. Many of us dwell on our weaknesses and we want to shore up those areas of our game, but don’t neglect your strengths which help our confidence level and get us out of many tough situations.

“Pressure is a privilege.”

You have to believe in yourself. Getting caught up with everyone else’s opinion serves no good purpose. You know your game better than anyone else, do what is right for you.

“Struggle is how we learn to grow.”

Get rid of negative thoughts. If you find yourself telling yourself you’re not good enough, you may never reach your full potential. Going to dark places doesn’t help the process, it hinders it.

Project the person/player you want to be. Now this may take a little acting for a while, but before long this new person will become who you are.

“Look good, feel good, play good.”

We’d all like to win every match we enter, but that isn’t going to be the case. Give each match, each point, your best effort. Adjust your game and strategy as needed and if you fall short in the outcome - hey, it isn’t life or death, just a match. Learn from it and go on.

“Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside.”

How’s your body language? It tells a story to your opponent. If you look confident, maintain your composure and stay positive even when you make mistakes, your chances of hanging in there over-all are so much better.

“Over-coming obstacles develops real strength.”

Good players visualize. Grab the best picture you have of yourself in your mind playing each point and envision a successful sequence of shots.

With this plan of action you are now ready to perform to the best of your ability.

Action! Once you have your goals in mind, maybe even written down, it’s time to go through the motions, mentally and physically. Rome wasn’t built in one day and either will your tennis game. Practice, practice matches, tournaments, league play and then more practice. Grooving your style, type of game and strategy and owning each shot, is how great players are made. And yes, great may be at any level.

“Hard work with a thought-out-plan creates confidence and success.”

Each day is a challenge and your performance is never going to be the same each day, but a solid, positive consistency can be had if you control mental responses when things aren’t going along so well.

Each of us have unique gifts, flaws and insecurities. If we concentrate on good patterns, stay positive and be real with ourselves, good things will happen more often.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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